When the news was first traveling around the city that HUB-BUB was vacating the Showroom most of the responses I heard were, “what a loss,” “how sad,” and “I hate to lose a place that meant so much to me.” And I understand these responses—believe me, I do. Change, no matter the outcome, is a painful process. But I must admit that my first response to learning that we were losing that space was not fear or disappointment but an excitement at the new opportunities this change could provide. Opportunities for collaboration and exploration.
I understand the benefits of occupying a performance space. Over the years the Showroom had a revolving door of artists, residents, performers, speakers, and people who simply needed a place to work and relax. Many of my dearest friends in Spartanburg were introduced to me in this space, whether at an event or just hanging around at an impromptu cookout in the driveway. Many of us saw this building as a fortress to gather and protect those who shared our sensibilities. But the problem with a fortress is that it both traps and excludes. And a community organization cannot exist separate from its larger community. And dynamic arts, ideas, and activities are not for a special group. They are for everyone.
So yes, we have lost a space. We left behind a valuable asset that gave so much to so many people, myself included. But we believe that the opportunities afforded by escaping the financial burden of maintaining such a space far outweigh the losses. When there is no immediate answer to the question of finding a venue for your programming, the questions become more exciting. In the end you have only one choice, you must reimagine place.
This principle has already guided us in the past: it has turned blank walls into beautiful murals, a downtown street into a giant water slide, a piece of the Cottonwood trail into a whimsical art installation, and an empty lot into a miniature golf course. Now we’re looking to put it at the heart of everything we do. The potential of any place is only limited by one’s willingness to turn challenges into opportunities and to seek partnerships with likeminded individuals and institutions. A vibrant city does not mean you must seek out excitement behind closed doors, it means you cannot escape it.
And in this spirit we decided to redesign our web presence as well. Losing our physical gallery means that we must find a new way to celebrate our local artists. We will be doing so here, with a digital gallery that will allow you into the artists’ work, space, and mindset. We cannot replace the intimacy of engaging with an artist’s work in person, or the communal intimacy of a gallery, but we can provide a specific, intimate portrait of the artist and possibly showcase our artists better than ever before.
Our work is not fundamentally changing. Our commitment is not weakening. We are growing. Constantly. Sometimes in spurts, sometimes in steps. There is an exciting path ahead of us, and we want you there.
So get ready to reimagine place with us. And maybe, as we reimagine what can happen in specific locations throughout the city we just might reimagine the city itself.